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Matt Barkley Plans to Compete for Eagles Starting Job

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Matt Barkley at USC (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Matt Barkley at USC (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA — While Matt Barkley’s stock dropped around the league, Chip Kelly saw a guy he coveted.

Kelly made sure he got his man Saturday when the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select the Southern California quarterback with the first pick of the fourth round. Barkley joins Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon, giving the Eagles an obvious quarterback controversy.

“I’m going to come in and compete,” Barkley said. “Has to be your mindset. Compete like it’s your job.”

Barkley was chosen with the 98th overall pick. Philadelphia gave Jacksonville a fourth-round pick (101) and a seventh-rounder (210) to move ahead of Kansas City and take Barkley.

“We’re going to take the best value on the board,” Kelly said, adding the Eagles rated Barkley in the top 50. “There’s a prime example. The best value on the board by far was Matt. He’s an extremely mature young man, intelligent, articulate. He has that ‘it’ factor.”

The Eagles chose North Carolina State safety Earl Wolff in the fifth round. They took Utah defensive end Joe Kruger, Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer and Oklahoma defensive end David King in the seventh round.

In his first NFL draft, Kelly chose Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson at No. 4 overall in the first round, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz in the second round and LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan in the third round.

The selection of Barkley was the biggest surprise.

“He was a four-year starter in high school, a four-year starter in college and he has all the intangibles you’re looking for,” Kelly said.

Former Eagles coach Andy Reid, now the Chiefs’ coach, likely would’ve taken Barkley at 99, and also tried to move up to get him at 98.

“I wasn’t going to be on the board long today, and the Chiefs were definitely looking to trade up, but the Eagles beat them to it,” Barkley said.

Barkley could’ve been a top-5 pick if he left school after his junior year, but he returned as a Heisman Trophy front-runner with a chance to lead USC to a national championship. Neither happened, and Barkley finished his career watching his teammates play in a bowl game from the sideline with his arm in a sling after sustaining a shoulder injury.

“I try not to get stressed about things I can’t control,” Barkley said when asked about his drop in the draft. “I’m just glad I know where my home is and I can’t wait to hit the playbook.”

Barkley rewrote the conference record book during a USC-record 47 starts over four seasons, becoming the Pac-12’s leader in touchdown passes, yards passing, completions and total offense. He impressed Kelly in four games against Oregon.

“I’ve seen his skill-set up close and personal four times and he’s answered the bell four times,” said Kelly, who left Oregon to join the Eagles after Reid was fired following a 4-12 season.

The biggest knock against Barkley is his arm strength. The shoulder injury may have scared some teams away.

But Barkley didn’t have surgery and only needed to rehab the sprain.

“He can deliver the ball,” Kelly said. “The arm strength aspect is overrated. We’re not trying to knock over milk cartons at a county fair. He’s not a one-year wonder. He’s done it for four straight years. The accuracy part is more important than arm strength part.”

Barkley isn’t viewed as a mobile quarterback who would fit into Kelly’s up-tempo, zone read offense. Kelly has insisted since the day he took the job that he’ll work around his players’ strengths.

“I want a quarterback who has the ability to run and not a running back who can throw,” Kelly said. “That’s been the biggest misconception. If there’s an opportunity to get a first down, get it. But in this league, you have to be able to throw the football. Repetitive accuracy is the No. 1 thing we are looking for.”

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